Sunday, September 4, 2011

RPGs Are NOT Less Relevant... But Bioware Is

BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk says RPGs are becoming "less relevant" as a genre to the current state of videogaming. I say RPGs are not becoming less relevant to the game industry. Bioware, however, has become less relevant to RPGs. 

Okay, I'll admit that's not entirely fair. Bioware isn't really bioware any more. Bioware is EA games now, and EA games has NEVER been relevant to RPGs.

EA is simply not capable of producing good RPGs. Their corporate culture forbids it. EA is one of those companies that thinks of customers as the enemy. All of EAs games are based on the premise that gamers are mouth breathing morons. That's their audience. It's a huge audience and they serve it well. They make shooters, racing games, and sports games. They don't develop games, they just repackage the same games over and over again and the drooling masses buy them. Most people are, after all, idiots. If you want to sell the maximum number of units of anything you need to cater to idiots.

Here's the simple truth that EA just doesn't get...

Idiots don't play RPGs.

RPG players aren't looking for a casual experience. RPG players are looking for a smart, immersive experience. RPGs are ingrained as part of geek culture, so RPG players tend to understand much more about computers and the technical side of game development than most mainstream game consumers. To make things worse RPG players tend to be genuinely creative and imaginative. This means that the cheap tricks that EA uses to cut corners on development costs are just not going go unappreciated by the RPG crowd. It also means that RPGs will never translate to the mass market the way EA wants it to. They make a ton of money selling games to "the lowest common denominator".

It's not complicated. EA sees this thriving niche market and they see dollar signs. They want a piece of that pie. They buy the best RPG developer in the industry, and then EA groupthink takes over...

"I know," says some EA exec that knows next to nothing about gaming and refers to games using buzz words like "titles" and "product".

"We can broaden the appeal of the genre," he continues, "by making it more accessible (ie dumbing it down), and we can apply the same techniques to RPGs that we've learned producing shooters (racing games, sports games, whatever) to cut production costs. Sure, we may loose a few RPG snobs, but the mass market will gobble it up!

After all, it worked with shooters. It worked with racing games. It worked with our sports titles. It'll work with RPGs too, right? After all, a game is a game.

Then when DA2 falls flat on it's face the simple reason STILL evades them. They announce that the sales are flat because RPGs are "less relevant".

That's a steaming pile of bovine dookie. Us gamers haven't changed. You developers did, and we don't want dumbed down copy/paste games so we stopped buying them.

The reason EA's RPGs are falling flat is because they're trying to broaden their market at the expense of the existing fan base. They are trying to move RPGs out of it's established niche and into the mass market.

And what happened? Where did all these new customers go? Why didn't the mass market embrace the exciting new genre they've been given?

Well, the mass market is composed primarily of idiots, and idiots don't play RPGs!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blame the Black Guy? REALLY?

Is that really all you've got?

I've had it up to my eyeballs with faux conservatives blaming Barack Obama for the economy.

Make no mistake about it. The mess we're in isn't the current administrations fault. It was Republicans who cut taxes and didn't have the political cajones to pay for their tax cuts by reducing spending. They just borrowed the money to make up the shortfalls.

And these people call themselves conservatives? FOR SHAME! There's nothing conservative about borrowing money.

The deficit doubled under Reagan and tripled under Bush. The Republican party replaced democratic "tax and spend" economic policy with a new "borrow and spend" model promising that in the long run this would lead to a golden age of prosperity that would catapult the economy forward by freeing up money for the private sector to invest. This money, they promised, would trickle down and make the whole country more prosperous.

There's also nothing conservative, by the way, about implementing major economic policies based on unproven, untested economic predictions. Frankly it's unwise to base economic policies based on proven and widely accepted economic projections. Economic projections can change when the wind blows. Real conservatives base their economic policies based on what is, not what should be or might be ten years down the road. The conservative solution to our economic woes is to raise taxes AND cut spending sufficiently to begin paying down our debt. That's right... not just balance the budget, actually start paying off the debt. And do it NOW. THIS budget session. Don't just pass some lame-ass law telling someone else THEY have to do it five or ten years down the road. YOU DO IT. NOW.

Needless to say "trickle down economics" has been a less then stellar success. The land of milk and honey we were promised never materialized. Instead what has happened is the the wealthiest people in the country have hoarded away a fortune and the gap between the rich and poor is wider than it's ever been before.

Anyway I digress... I was saying that the recession was, in fact, a REPUBLICAN blunder and talking about how our debt skyrocketed on the watch of these supposedly conservative administrations.

Then, to add injury to... well, injury... we were robbed blind right under the noses of the last Republican administrations political sycophants in the SEC. The recently deregulated financial services industry, the very people who benefited most from these lopsided policies, diddled away trillions by selling mortgages to people they KNEW couldn't afford them. But they didn't care, because as long as the loans lasted through the quarter (at a significantly reduced interest rate, nod nod wink wink) they got their bonuses. The economy was torpedoed under the Republican's watch, and it was so badly damaged that it's still struggling to recover.

Now... If you honestly believe that the economic devastation that these criminals wrought on our economy could really be fixed in just two years I suggest you stop reading right now because I'm about to say something you're going to find very insulting. Please stop voting. You're just too stupid. It took the republicans decades to bury the economy. Did you really think one person was going to swoop in and fix it in two years?

And what do the Republicans have to offer NOW?

They're blaming the black guy! They honestly expect me to believe that the president is wielding some mythical blank check, waving it around in a pork barrel frenzy and spewing forth federal money like water from a hose and that this is what's dragging down the economy.

And all over the country people are buying it! It seems impossible. The only explanation I can think of is that people are believing this crap because they want to believe it. It looks to me like the Republicans have decided to tap white America's latent racism rather than accept responsibility for their role in our predicament and adjust their policies to reflect that maybe they've made some mistakes in the past. If you can offer me some other explanation I'd love to hear it.

Be warned though, Urk's Outpost is a BS Free Zone.

The Republicans are still trying to sell the same magical thinking they've been pawning off on the illiterate masses for a generation. "Don't worry," they say, "as long as we don't raise taxes in the long run it will lead to a golden age of prosperity that will catapult the economy forward by freeing up money for the private sector to invest. Of course in the meantime we'll need to cut spending by breaking our agreement with the working class and screwing them out of the Social Security payments they've been FORCED to make their entire lives. And we'll have to neglect a few old people to death by cutting medicaid and medicare. But don't worry! Because in the end these investments will trickle down and make the whole country more prosperous."

Uh... No wait... We're not supposed to phrase it that way any more. Now we're supposed to say, "Don't worry, because in the end these investments will CREATE JOBS and make the whole country more prosperous".

Voodoo f&*^%*g economics. It's no more true now than it was then. It's the same old song that got us into this mess, but now instead of wanting to borrow the money, they want to take it out of the hides of the working class, the elderly, and the poor.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Real Conservatives Can No Longer Vote Republican

Conservatism is a political philosophy heralding back to the founding principles of the country. For example...

Conservatives believe that it is the nature of even benevolent government to be corrupt. It is therefore important to keep government small and limit it's power. Conservatives believe that civil liberties are paramount. They believe that individuals are better able to determine their best interests for themselves than government. They believe that freedom of the press and freedom of speech are keystones of democracy. Conservatives believe that a competitive free market is the only effective way to weed waste and corruption out of the economy. Finally, conservatives believe in financial responsibility. Not only is it simple common sense that one should not spend more money than one has, it also acts as a check to keep government small and thereby limit government corruption.

Real conservatives don't believe that democracy can ever be, or should ever be, some kind of Utopia. Real conservatives understand that when you live in a free society people are not only free to achieve and succeed, they are also free to be stupid, make mistakes, crash, and sometimes even burn. The price of liberty is often safety. And that's OK with Conservatives, because Conservatives believe that freedom is worth dying for. If I might paraphrase Ben Franklin, "Anyone who would surrender liberty for safety deserves neither".

Republicans pay lip service to this philosophy, but every chance they've had to deliver they've betrayed their own platform in the name of political expediency, which in today's political environment means pandering to the prejudices of it's constituency and shaping policy to maximize campaign contributions.

Here are a few of my favorite examples of Republican "Faux Conservatism":

The Patriot Act:
In one fell swoop we've basically run the constitution through a shredder. The government can now secretly arrest an American citizen, hold him indefinitely without ANY due process of law, and torture him at will.

The Drug War: Apparently individuals are free to make mistakes EXCEPT where consuming drugs is concerned. I don't even know where to begin. This betrays almost every tenant of conservatism.

Free Speech Zones: Thank You Dubyah for Free Speech Zones. Apparently you have the right to speak your mind, just don't do it in earshot of anyone that matters or you can be arrested.

The Deficit: Republicans haven't been social conservatives for generations, but they were at least fiscally conservative back in the old days. That all changed with the Reagan administration. Reagan replaced "Tax and Spend" democratic economic policy with an infinitely less responsible "Borrow and Spend" model. There was a moment of hope under the Clinton administration when the debt at least stopped growing (BTW liberals, before you break your arm patting yourselves on the back keep in mind that Clinton couldn't have done it without the help of the Republicans and the leadership of Newt Gingrich), but Dubyah pissed those accomplishments away in pretty short order. It didn't help that he sat on his hands while Wall Street played fast and loose with trillions of dollars right under the noses of his political sycophants in the SEC. Then, when there was a real crisis in the form of an economic crash the coffers were empty.

Health Care: Health care in this country is a monopoly. It is illegal to compete with health care and health insurance providers. This is cozy for the health care industry that's getting rich and for the politicians that are enjoying generous kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions, but it's leaving the rest of us in a bit of a pickle. What really pisses me off is that they are pretending that "privatized" health care is in some way true to the tenants of capitalism, when in fact it's been little more than a cartel for generations.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Quick Thought About Harold Camping and the Aftermath of This Weekend's Rapture

A lot of irate folks are calling on the feds to help Harold Camping's victims. The consensus among these voices seems to be that the fed should seize his ill-gotten gains and distribute them to the people who gave away their belongings, quit their jobs, or otherwise messed up their lives.

I strongly disagree.

The Bible says flat out that nobody, not even the angels, will be warned in advance of the Rapture. These people, while they may be victims of a terrible lie, chose to ignore the word of God in favor of the word of a charismatic false prophet. Being a Christian is a responsibility, and the victims of this scam abdicated their responsibilities. They made a choice to ignore scripture, and they need to live with the consequences. I'm not prepared to surrender my first amendment right of free speech and my fourth amendment protection from search and seizure in order to protect people that should have known better in the first place. As far as Camping is concerned... I pray that he repents his evil ways and does the right thing. If he doesn't he'll have proven once and for all that he's not merely confused or misled. He's just plain evil and he's going to have to face his Judgment just like all evil men.

I shudder to contemplate the aeonian punishment that might be waiting for him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Play Toy Ball

A play toy ball is rolling in the night
Companion blue and bubble broad and steamroller steady
Through an ever black
Glitter dot
Never new sea.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Marketing for Accountants: What's New In SEO?

Big changes seem to be
afoot in the search engine marketing field. Google's algo seems to
putting less emphasis on anchor text and more emphasis on the relevance
of the page with the incoming link. What does this mean to you? It means
it's time to get back to basics and make sure your page content is
relevant to the page you're linking to if you want to enjoy a page rank
benefit from it. When distributing content try to get it published on
keyword relevant sites. This has always been the rule, but now it's more
important than ever. There are some on-page factors you can exploit,
too. Use old school SEO techniques: Use keywords in your page/article
title and consider the old school metrics like Keyword Density and
Keyword Placement.

While this makes my job harder, it may just improve Google's results for a while. Only time will tell.

For more techniques to help you sell your CPA or accounting practice visit Brian's CPA Websites Blog every day.

And drop every month or so to take a look at my Marketing for Accountants blog.